Ego Audio impressed us well with its first wave of cable products embraced with reasonable prices and outstanding quality. Now it is time to feature the products that would step up to another level in terms of performance. Ego Audio recently announced two new premium cables, and if you have already read our previous review or seen their cables, these new cables just have to be named after alcohols too, right? Well, you are right. They are each named Gin and Brandy. Let us first take a deep look at Gin’s spec and characteristics as well as its sonic performance and matchings.
These cables come in the usual packaging all we are aware of, a small white box which includes a soft pouch along with the cable. The looks are a tad plain as there are no other design elements other than the Ego Audio log on the top along with the names and termination info labeled on the side for identification. The pouch is very soft and quite useful for preventing the cable/IEM from scratches. I usually cover my IEMs with these pouches before storing into another case, so that they won’t move around while they are stored. Though I would have wished to see a good quality cable tie and a carrying case included as an accessory, since its premium position and price. No biggie, but I would strongly suggest them to consider that.
Aesthetics / Features
Gin is like Whiskey done in pure silver. Featuring the same woven-braided structure that is stranded with super-thin fiber cores, resulting in a crystal-like texture to the looks. It is the same spatial and a slightly glittery appearance as Whiskey that makes the IEM fancier without getting burdensome. Gin is made of 4-braid 4N OCC pure silver wires (23awg) with Kevlar core and medical grade PVC shielding.
The shielding is very transparent and soft, not causing any microphonics or oxidation. The weight is around average, not super light but definitely not on the heavy side. Besides, unlike their previous models, Ego Audio included an extra metal part a little higher from the jack with the product name indicated. I believe this is done for easy identification as Gin and Brandy are hard to differentiate by its looks. This does not bother the usage or sound quality – even for storing the device in your pocket.
Sound impression – Paired with Oriolus Mellianus
Luckily, Mellianus already comes with a high-quality stock cable made with oil-immersed single crystal silver wires. This stock cable alone retails for about $500, so you do not really need to get an upgrade cable – unless you want to take the steps even further. The stock cable delivers beautifully analyzed yet incredibly smooth upper frequencies. Yet the bass could sure use more rigidity and power. That is the point where Gin should kick in.
Finding a good cable for Mellianus is somewhat tricky and easy at the same time. This is because Mellianus tends to blend in well with different cables, yet it is challenging to bring improvements while maintaining the identical characteristics the original setup had. Silver cables would do a fine job presenting the airy atmosphere Mellianus has, yet I have discovered that numbers of them would make the texture particles drier/harsher, making the overall sound quite grainy. Copper would likely not have such a problem, but then again, the upper frequencies would lose its airiness.
It is very interesting to find that Gin opens up the sound without actually getting it “bright”. Well, it does get bright, but the approach Gin takes is closer to simply clearing up the stuffy coatings from the upper frequencies, not aggressively forcing the upper frequencies to power up. This allows the overall sound to become to feel purer and analytical yet staying very much intact with the original characteristics the IEM has. Thanks to that, Mellianus gains a further upgrade in clarity and transparency without the upper frequencies getting wacky or untamed. It also highlights a bit more density and rigidity to the sound, allowing the vocals to have more of a crispy bite. These changes are all meaningful enough, but the biggest difference comes from the low end. The bass visibly gains more body and depth to it. The bass would form in a bigger shape and darker in color while diving down. It also gains more elasticity and vitality, making a better reveal for itself.
Sound impression – Paired with Kinera Nanna
You may think the sound change is not as big as imagined, though the more you dig into it, the more you realize the difference – the change was not obvious as other cases because the improvements have been brought so seamlessly. The bass is meatier and very elastic, like a large, heavy rubber ball that is slightly soft as well. It brings a stronger ringing to the bass yet not overdone or causing muddy reverbs. The tonality on mids are near identical as original, but now with undoubtedly stronger appeal and power. The body is fuller and thicker in density, thoroughly filling the lower ends full of particles while keeping the upper range mildly opened.
The bass quality Gin provides are well proven while matching with Nanna, as Nanna was not particularly emphasized in bass quantity. Very appreciable tuning for those who dig a clean and evenly spread sound, though some may want a bit more bass reproduction while enjoying all other elements just as it is. Matching a bassy copper cable would be the first option that comes up to the mind, yet those often take away the fizz from Nanna’s tonality, causing the tone to be rather “flat”. Well, despite its pure-silver nature, Gin is an excellent choice for preserving Nanna’s original tone and analyticity, just except the lows and mids swapped with lot stronger engines. Along with a larger sound stage and imaging, the sound stays just as harmonic and well-fitted to each other.
When Gin stands superior to Brandy
Do not assume Brandy’s superiority just by looking at the price tag – Gin and Brandy are more on the competing relationship, having similar DNAs yet with clear differences. If you have not read the Brandy review already, Brandy will apply more body to the sound with slight warmth, mostly on the mids. This is surely ideal if you would like the sound to get both bolder and airier, but Gin will approach as a better option either if you would like to cool down the temperature of the sound or if you would like to thin out the reverbs from your IEM.
Plus, if you are familiar with how these cable materials usually sound, Gin would also be a better option if you specifically want a silvery scheme and not a gold-silver scheme to the sound. Now do not get me wrong, Brandy does not degrade the transparency and clarity of the sound but only adds a creamy taste to the sound (refer to Brandy review for further details). Some IEMs would lose their density fairly easy once swapped to a brighter cable (Rhapsodio Orla, Oriolus Reborn, etc) while some are rather stolid about it (Campfire Audio Andromeda, Moondrop A8, etc). For the former, Gin would likely be a better option. For the latter would be Brandy instead.
Gin is by far one of the very best silver cables that not only preserve the bass quantity but actually deepen the depth and color. Silver cables often gain that “silvery tone” to the sound, yet Gin stays surprisingly organic and natural despite the upper ends opening up with smooth airiness. The upper mids and treble gain crispiness and density in terms of hardness, tightening the sound while keeping the lows and lower mids with a relatively gentler amount of relaxation and softness.
Of course, lows are slightly tightened, just enough to trim out the excessive reverbs that would make the atmosphere muddy. Mids are pulled closer, yet also giving this much power to the lows enables all lows/mids/highs to sound crystal clearer. This meaty, deep, and dark bass that stretches all the way down to ultra lows paired with crisp and sparkly upper mids greatly enhances the IEM’s performance – not to forget stressing again that the highs gain highlights without any excessive brightness or force, not at all.
Gin is an ideal choice for crystal-clear focusing all lows/mid/highs for IEMs that sound boomy and large. This one is such a markable cable for its deep, clear, and organic bass – all the way from ultra lows to upper lows. The upper ends are highlighted without breaking the original tone or sound, but most importantly, it never gets harsh or rough but always maintains a gentle, soothing attitude. If you are looking for a pure silver cable that empowers the lower ends just as much as the higher ends, this is the likable solution you should pair up with your premium/flagship IEM.